Jun 20, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (left), LeBron James (center) and Chris Bosh (right) celebrate after game seven in the 2013 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena. Miami defeated the San Antonio Spurs 95-88 to win the NBA Championship. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing to Fear: Heat Still Best Team in Stronger Eastern Conference


Three Straight Eastern Conference Titles.

Three Consecutive NBA Finals Appearances.

Back-To-Back NBA Titles.

These type of achievements are unheard of in this day and age of the NBA.

And yet, suddenly everyone in the league — from everyday comment trollers to the high-level media members — are already putting the Miami Heat on watch.

Watch out Miami, Brooklyn has an all-star cast waiting for you.

Keep one eye opened Heat, #TheReturn is finally happening and Derrick Rose is ready for redemption.

You’re going down LeBron, we may have lost in Seven, but Scola, Watson, Copeland, and Granger give us Pacers the Championship formula we’ve been missing.

Those statements above prove one thing, and one thing only: The East is getting better and better everyday.

And I love it.

Why you ask?

Because somewhere, in an undisclosed location, a 2-time NBA Champion known as King James is smiling. Smiling because his job just got a whole lot easier.

Jun 20, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James addresses the media after defeating the San Antonio Spurs in game seven in the 2013 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena. Miami Heat won 95-88 to win the NBA Championship. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Easier? What are you talking about? The entire conference is growing with talent, and Miami is the same team minus Mike Miller! That’s ridiculous!

Here’s why it’s not so ridiculous:

The past two seasons have been mediocre times for the Eastern Conference, with really only two teams being worthy of playing for a shot at the Larry O’Brian Trophy.

For example, in 2012 LeBron and Company had something to prove — the King needed his ring and the Big Three Blueprint had one last chance to succeed — against a conference that featured only two true obstacles: the window-closing Boston Celtics and Derrick Rose’s Chicago Bulls.

These two teams were favored to battle it out in the Eastern Semis, until everything changed in the blink of an eye.

Derrick Rose suffers a torn ACL, and the Chicago Bulls fall to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Then the Celtics struggle against  the 76ers, before advancing in 7 to the ECF.

Waiting for them were their Big Three rivals from South Beach, who had dispatched easily of the Knicks in five, before rallying from a 2-1 deficit to overpower the weaker Indiana Pacers.

And we know how the story goes.

Miami loses Game 5 at home, everybody writes them off, LeBron has arguably the best playoff game of his career (45 points and 15 Rebounds) on the road to force a Game 7 in Miami, which they then go onto win in dramatic fashion.

Oh, and don’t forget the 4-1 domination of the Thunder for that NBA Title they so desperately craved.

Then there is the recently completed 2013 NBA Playoffs.

Don’t miss the mighty and powerful Eastern Conference! Featuring the Rondo-less Celtics, Rose-less Bulls, Amare-less Knicks..oh and the Hawks and Bucks made the field.

The two best teams in the conference, given the circumstances, were the Heat and the Pacers.

They both made it to the ECF, and they put together a phenomenal six-game series.

Excuse me sir. They played a seven game series..are you confused?

No. No I’m not. Because the Heat played a seven game series. The Pacers flew down to South Beach for Game 7 and left their talent on Carousel 4 at Miami International.

Jun 3, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Indiana Pacers fans react during the third quarter of game 7 of the 2013 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Last season was the year for Indiana to steal the show and upset the best team in basketball. That window to “Beat the Heat” is almost closed.

You’re a biased writer! We’ve made some of the best adjustments of any team this offseason! This is our year!

Ahh but I’m not, because even though the Pacers have made some amazing additions to their roster, so has every other top team in the conference.

And Miami doesn’t fear any of them…at least not yet.

Why?

For one because the greatest basketball player on the planet (if you don’t know who I’m talking about just stop reading now) is enjoying the prime of his career, and is ready to add more hardware to his already stellar trophy case.

Then there’s the possibility of signing Greg Oden and adding the missing Big Man piece that can bring a 3peat parade to Biscayne Boulevard.

Still, even if Oden doesn’t sign, the Heat have one of the best small-ball lineups in the league with Chalmers, Wade, or Cole combining with James and two of the best shooters in the league in Battier and Allen.

But the most important reason that Miami cannot and will not be afraid of these blockbuster offseason moves is simple:

Until proven otherwise, they are the best team in a conference that just got stronger.

And a stronger conference means teams have to battle with more and more intensity to win multiple 6-7 game series.

Which means by the time they face the Heat in the playoffs, they’ll be just like the Pacers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals:

No where to be found.

Tags: Feature Greg Oden Lebron James Miami Heat